At the 2022 ESSENCE Festival of Culture, New Voices and JP Morgan Chase hosted a pitch competition to help women-of-color create, launch, and grow their business. And now we’re catching up with the winner—Aliyah Marandiz, Founder of Sugardoh.
An unlikely entrepreneur, Aliyah found that corporate environments stifled her love for creating and building things. So, after working as a freelance designer and marketer for a year, her husband encouraged her to open her own business—and hair removal seemed like a natural fit. Historically it’s something we’re told to do, and Aliyah noticed that the pressure to be hair-free, 24/7 has left many of us embarrassed and in desperate need to remove it, especially women of color who naturally have darker, denser hair.“Sugardoh was created to rebrand hair removal as attainable, fun, healthy, and most importantly, a choice,” she says. “Since hair removal is often a repeated routine, we were moved to make it one of the most sustainable, eco-friendly options on the market.’ And that’s why her products are compostable, great for all skin types, and easy to learn from the comfort of your own home.
Building and growing Sugardoh has been a personal and intimate experience for Aliya. She started this business to give more people access to the hair removal method that worked for her and to give herself the financial freedom to build, grow, and create on her terms. “I want Sugardoh to be an international brand available in 1000s of retail stores across the globe so we can give more hairy bodies access to a healthy relationship with hair removal” she says. “I want the next generation founders with like-minded brands to have the financial freedom to build, grow, and create on their own terms, through Sugardoh grants, programs, and infrastructure.”
And thanks to the financial support of JP Morgan Chase, she is starting to work towards her big goals. “To be honest, finances scare me, it’s a mix of a lack of financial education and starting a company as a solo entrepreneur so young,” Aliyah says. “Every time I speak to my mentor from Chase, I feel like we’re placing guardrails for the business to succeed. There’s someone else who is also looking at my sales, P&L statement, balance sheet, etc. who can easily highlight any impending red flags. It feels like less of the financial burden is on my shoulders.”
She is also making sure there is Black representation in all levels of the business, from high-level investors to the employees packing orders in the fulfillment center at Sugardoh. “One day I would love to be investing in other Black-owned businesses and providing them with the mentorship and practical knowledge I had to learn while building the business,” she says.
“I’ve really enjoyed mentoring other black businesses on marketing and Tiktok over the last year, helping them tap into their potential and letting their voice be heard. We have the most inspiring stories!”
So, what’s her advice for all you budding entrepreneurs out there? She says to learn to walk before you run. “I know how overwhelming it can be to be pulled in so many directions. You want to have the perfect product, packaging, marketing plan, team, Instagram grid, Tiktok videos…the list goes on and on,” she says. “Starting small (just a handful or products done really well or posting a video from excitement instead of obligation), keeps you in the present moment so you can really react to customers’ needs.” She goes on to say that learning how to walk in your business comes by doing, working, learning every way you can. She adds, “And once you do that, you’ll run faster than you ever thought possible.”
To learn more about her business, check out her website and follow along on social media at Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.